The Quiet Demise of Self-Catering – Another Blow to the Rural Economy

The Irish Self-Catering Federation, representing over 3000 holiday home owners across Ireland wish to bring to your attention an issue that is having a profoundly negative impact on the traditional self-catering sector in Ireland.

  • A New Planning Law – In large swathes of Ireland, it is now necessary to have full planning permission for existing and new holiday homes  
  • Major Collateral Damage: Criminal Convictions and Empty Properties are now the order of the day in Rent Pressure Zones with more popping up each month
  • The Decline of a Major Regional and Seasonal Economic Driver: The self-catering industry has deep roots in all parts of Ireland – this is being quietly extinguished
  • Our One Ask – We ask that our political representatives consider the self-catering as an important tourism resource and work for a planning exemption for those operating holiday homes for the past 5 years


  • July 2019 – Where It All Began
    July 2019 heralded the introduction of new planning laws to address the letting of short-term properties primarily in the Dublin area. The much-lauded ‘Airbnb rules’ as they were known by many were designed for major urban centres. However, through ‘Rent Pressure Zones’ these laws have now spread to huge swathes of the country with new areas being included on a monthly basis. The law requires every existing short-term property (in a Rent Pressure Zone) to reapply for planning permission to operate as a holiday home – something which is prohibitively expensive and, in most cases, will be rejected by the Local Authorities. On top of this, the new law has not realised its objective to free up properties for the long-term housing market.

  • Major Collateral Damage:  Criminal Convictions and Empty Properties
    Since the introduction of this law, property owners across the country now live in fear of a criminal conviction by continuing to rent their second homes to holiday makers.  Many of these property owners were part of the fabric of early Irish tourism efforts. Over the years, they brought their modest cottages through the many detailed tourism requirements to a now world class standard. Rather than provide an ideal type of holiday accommodation to visitors, property owners are now choosing to leave their second properties empty 50 weeks of the year – only using it themselves rather than contributing to the local economy.
  • A Major Regional and Seasonal Economic Driver –
    The short-term rental industry or ‘self-catering’ is a major engine of rural economies right across the country. Each cottage brings employment for a cleaner, a caretaker, a tradesman, a gardener. Each cottage brings visitors who stay for multiple nights spending throughout the area as they go. As we emerge carefully from the Covid-19 pandemic, self-catering is now the preferred option for Irish holiday makers which underpins the importance of this sector to Ireland.

  • Our Ask – An Exemption – The housing supply issue has inadvertently spilled over into the decades old cottage rental industry. We, on behalf of the self-catering sector seek a fair exemption from these planning laws for those who have been legitimately been operating in tourism accommodation for at least the past 5 years. The new government and legislators need to consider the importance of the Irish self-catering sector in Ireland’s Covid Recovery Strategy through this exemption.

Our Ask

The ISCF is asking the new government and legislators to consider the importance of the Irish Self-catering Sector in Ireland’s Recovery Strategy by:

Give an exemption to properties that have been engaged in short term lettings for the purposes of tourism accommodation in the 5 years prior to 2019.

What Law / Regulation Are We Referring To?

Additional Information

The Quiet Demise of Self-Catering – Another Blow to the Rural Economy

Irish Self Catering Federation – Position Paper – Self-Catering Tourist Sector in No Man’s Land

Why our decades-old industry is worried about blunt new Airbnb rules

Planning and Development Act 2000 (Exempted Development) (No. 2) Regulations 2019 (S.I. 235 of 2019)

Short term lets: How the new rules could impact you

Letter from Dept of Housing to Local Authorities etc

New Regulation of Short- Term Letting

New Regulation of Short-Term Lettings – FAQ’s

Definitions of Short Term Lettings & Rent Pressure Zones

Current list of rent pressure zones

Report: Economic Impact Assessment of the complete Self Catering Industry in Ireland